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- St. George and St. Michael Vol. II - 6/34 -
all her strength to avoid breaking down on his entrance. His first look of amazement she tried to answer with a smile, but at the expression of pitiful dismay which followed when another glance had revealed the cause of her presence, she burst into tears. The honest man was full of compunctious distress at the sight of the suffering his breach of custom had so cruelly prolonged.
'And I haf bin slap in mine bed!' he exclaimed with horror at the contrast.
Had she been his daughter and his mistress both in one, he could not have treated her with greater respect or tenderness. Of course he set about relieving her at once, but this was by no means such an easy matter as Dorothy had expected. For the key of the chair was in the black cabinet; the black cabinet was secured with one of lord Herbert's marvellous locks; the key of that lock was in lord Herbert's pocket, and lord Herbert was either in bed at Chepstow or Monmouth or Usk or Caerlyon, or on horseback somewhere else, nobody in Raglan knew where. But Caspar lost no time in unavailing moan. He proceeded at once to light a fire on his forge hearth, and in the course of a few minutes had fashioned a pick-lock, by means of which, after several trials and alterations, at length came the welcome sound of the yielding bolts, and Dorothy rose from the terrible chair. But so benumbed were all her limbs that she escaped being relocked in it only by the quick interposition of Caspar's arms. He led her about like a child, until at length she found them sufficiently restored to adventure the journey to her chamber, and thither she slowly crept. Few of the household were yet astir, and she met no one. When she was covered up in bed, then first she knew how cold she was, and felt as if she should never be warm again.
At last she fell asleep, and slept long and soundly. Her maid went to call her, but finding it difficult to wake her, left her asleep, and did not return until breakfast was over. Then finding her still asleep she became a little anxious, and meeting mistress Amanda, told her she was afraid mistress Dorothy was ill. But mistress Amanda was herself sleepy and cross, and gave her a sharp answer, whereupon the girl went to lady Broughton. She, however, being on her way to morning mass, for it was Sunday, told her to let mistress Dorothy have her sleep out.
The noise of horses' hoofs upon the paving of the stone court roused her, and then in came the sounds of the organ from the chapel. She rose confounded, and hurrying to the window drew back the curtain. The same moment lord Herbert walked from the hall into the fountain-court in riding dress, followed by some forty or fifty officers, the noise of whose armour and feet and voices dispelled at once the dim Sabbath feeling that hung vapour-like about the place. They gathered around the white horse, leaning or sitting on the marble basin, some talking in eager groups, others folding their arms in silence, listening, or lost heedless in their own thoughts, while their leader entered the staircase door at the right-hand corner of the western gate, the nearest way to his wife's apartment of the building.
Now Dorothy had gone to sleep in perplexity, and all through her dreams had been trying to answer the question what course she should take with regard to the nocturnal intrusion. If she told lady Margaret she could but go with it to the marquis, and he was but just recovering from an attack of the gout, and ought not to be troubled except it were absolutely necessary. Was it, or was it not, necessary? Or was there no one else to whom she might with propriety betake herself in her doubt--lord Charles or Dr. Bayly? But here now was lord Herbert come back, and doubt there was none any more. She dressed herself in tremulous haste, and hurried to lady Margaret's room, where she hoped to see him. No one was there, and she tried the nursery, but finding only Molly and her attendant, returned to the parlour, and there seated herself to wait, supposing lady Margaret and he had gone together to morning service.
They had really gone to the oak parlour, whither the marquis generally made his first move after an attack that had confined him to his room; for in the large window of that parlour, occupying nearly the whole side of it towards the moat, he generally sat when well enough to be about and take cognizance of what wa's going on; and there they now found him.
'Welcome home, Herbert!' he said, kindly, holding out his hand. 'And how does my wild Irishwoman this morning? Crying her eyes out because her husband is come back, eh?--But, Herbert, lad, whence is all that noise of spurs and scabbards--and in the fountain court, too? I heard them go clanking and clattering through the hall like a torrent of steel! Here I sit, a poor gouty old man, deserted of my children and servants--all gone to church--to serve a better Master--not a page or a maid left me to send out to see and bring me word what is the occasion thereof! I was on the point of hobbling to the door myself when you came.'
'Being on my way to the forest of Dean, my lord, and coming round by Raglan to inquire after you and my lady, I did bring with me some of my officers to dine and drink your lordship's health on our way.'
'You shall all be welcome, though I fear I shall not make one,' said the marquis, with a grimace, for just then he had a twinge of the gout.
'I am sorry to see you suffer, sir,' said his son.
'Man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward,' returned the marquis, giving a kick with the leg which contained his inheritance; and then came a pause, during which lady Margaret left the room.
'My lord,' said Herbert at length, with embarrassment, and forcing himself to speak, 'I am sorry to trouble you again, after all the money, enough to build this castle from the foundations--'
'Ah! ha!' interjected the marquis, but lord Herbert went on--
'which you have already spent on behalf of the king, my master, but--'
'YOUR master, Herbert!' said the marquis, testily. 'Well?'
'I must have some more money for his pressing necessities.' In his self-compulsion he had stumbled upon the wrong word.
'MUST you?' cried the marquis angrily. 'Pray take it.'
And drawing the keys of his treasury from the pocket of his frieze coat, he threw them down on the table before him. Lord Herbert reddened like a girl, and looked as much abashed as if he had been caught in something of which he was ashamed. One moment he stood thus, then said,
'Sir, the word was out before I was aware. I do not intend to put it into force. I pray will you put up your key again?'
'Truly, son,' replied the marquis, still testily, but in a milder tone, 'I shall think my keys not safe in my pocket whilst you have so many swords by your side; nor that I have the command of my house whilst you have so many officers in it; nor that I am at my own disposal, whilst you have so many commanders.'
'My lord,' replied Herbert, 'I do not intend that they shall stay in the castle; I mean they shall be gone.'
'I pray, let them. And have care that MUST do not stay behind,' said the marquis. 'But let them have their dinner first, lad.'
Lord Herbert bowed, and left the room. Thereupon, in the presence of lady Margaret, who just then re-entered, good Dr. Bayly, who, unperceived by lord Herbert in his pre-occupation, had been present during the interview, stepped up to the marquis and said:
'My good lord, the honourable confidence your lordship has reposed in me boldens me to do my duty as, in part at least, your lordship's humble spiritual adviser.'
'Thou shouldst want no boldening to do thy duty, doctor,' said the marquis, making a wry face.
'May I then beg of your lordship to consider whether you have not been more severe with your noble son than the occasion demanded, seeing not only was the word uttered by a lapse of the tongue, but yourself heard my lord express much sorrow for the overslip?'
'What!' said lady Herbert, something merrily, but looking in the face of her father-in-law with a little anxious questioning in her eyes, 'has my lord been falling out with my Ned?'
'Hark ye, daughter!' answered the marquis, his face beaming with restored good-humour, for the twinge in his toe had abated, 'and you too, my good chaplain!--if my son be dejected, I can raise him when I please; but it is a question, if he should once take a head, whether I could bring him lower when I list. Ned was not wont to use such courtship to me, and I believe he intended a better word for his father; but MUST was for the king.'
Returning to her own room, lady Margaret found Dorothy waiting for her.
'Well, my little lig-a-bed!' she said sweetly, 'what is amiss with thee? Thou lookest but soberly.'
'I am well, madam; and that I look soberly,' said Dorothy, 'you will not wonder when I tell you wherefore. But first, if it please you, I would pray for my lord's presence, that he too may know all.'
'Holy mother! what is the matter, child?' cried lady Margaret, of late easily fluttered. 'Is it my lord Herbert you mean, or my lord of Worcester?'
'My lord Herbert, my lady. I dread lest he should be gone ere I have found a time to tell him.'
'He rides again after dinner,' said lady Margaret.
'Then, dear my lady, if you would keep me from great doubt and disquiet, let me have the ear of my lord for a few moments.'
Lady Margaret rang for her page, and sent him to find his master and request his presence in her parlour.
Within five minutes lord Herbert was with them, and within five more, Dorothy had ended her tale of the night, uninterrupted save by lady Margaret's exclamations of sympathy.
'And now, my lord, what am I to do?' she asked in conclusion.
Lord Herbert made no answer for a few moments, but walked up and
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